PARKER — The Legend High School football team needed everything from its two senior playmakers to hold off a late surge from Pine Creek in a highly-anticipated 5A-4A South showdown to open league play Friday at EchoPark Stadium.
Wide receiver Jackson Brush and fellow workhorse Bryce Vaz (19 carries for 91 yards) scored two touchdowns apiece, and the 5A No. 7 Titans (5-1, 1-0 5A/4A South) defense held off a late surge from the 4A No. 2 Eagles in a 26-23 victory.
Brush opened the scoring on a 49-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Colter Warner, after he juked to his right to evade a defender at the 30-yard line and ran it in.
“After that first possession, it was pedal to the metal,” Brush said. “We know how good (Pine Creek’s) secondary is. There’s a reason why they are so highly ranked in 4A, and we did everything we could to keep pounding.”
In the second quarter, Legend went for it with a gutsy fourth-and-7 call at the Pine Creek 28-yard line, and Brush came across the middle with the catch on a slant route, sprinted toward the far sideline and scored to make it 20-6. He finished the first half with three receptions for 89 yards.
Pine Creek (5-1, 0-1) dual threat quarterback Josiah Roy showed off his arm strength to get the Eagles on the board with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Braden Kramer.
The Eagles used a bit of trickery of their own trailing by two possessions, as they converted a 4th-and-long on a fake punt. Three plays later, Roy found Gavin Whetzal in the corner of the end zone for a 12-yard score to make it a one-score game at 20-13.
For Pine Creek head coach Todd Miller, the fake punt was the spark his offense needed and the hurry-up, fast-paced offense set the tone moving forward.
“Our kids just fought and with such a young group starting 10 sophomores, we fought until the end tonight and we didn’t blink,” Miller said. “We didn’t pass the test because we came up on the back end, but, we did pass the test of realizing that we may be better than we think we are.”
Turnovers came back to bite both teams after a penalty-laden first half. The Eagles recovered a fumble deep inside Legend territory, only for Roy to be stripped two plays later.
The very next play, the Titans’ Vaz found an opening and ran 59 yards for his second touchdown of the night with 2:32 to go in the first half.
“We knew we needed a response and it was huge for us to get that momentum swing,” Vaz said. “We wanted to help our defense and they’ve been helping us all year. This was an offensive game and we knew we needed to score.”
Pine Creek’s Ian Johnson added a 38-yard field goal late in the half to cut the deficit back to 10 with Pine Creek trailing 26-16.
The third quarter was all about clock management, and the Eagles took advantage. Roy drove the Eagles down the field and scored on a quarterback sneak, which capped off an 11-play, 70-yard drive that cut the lead to 26-23.
In the final frame, the Eagles had a chance to take the lead and drove to the Legend 37 to set up a fourth-down situation. Roy heaved it towards the end zone but the pass fell incomplete.
The Titans will face another top-10 team next Saturday at home against 5A No. 6 Regis Jesuit (4-2), while Pine Creek will return to Colorado Springs to face 5A No. 10 Douglas County (5-0).
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